Nintendo fixes a major problem with Switch in-game chat service

Enlarge / This little squid boy can now check Twitter without having to disconnect from his in-game chat session.

When Nintendo launched its smartphone-based Nintendo Switch multiplayer coordination app back in July, we took major issue with the baffling decision to disconnect voice chat if you switch to another app or put the phone into “sleep mode” with the screen inactive. Credit where it’s due, then, because the version 1.1.0 update to the app released yesterday fixes these major issues. Voice chat with other Switch players can now continue even in sleep mode or with other apps open.

This kind of basic, background functionality really shouldn’t have taken about two months to add to an app that came four months after the console’s launch, especially when everything from Skype to Discord already had the same capability. But it’s better late than never, and Nintendo still has a while before its online service leaves its current “free beta” and becomes a $20-per-year subscription service in 2018.

Of course, requiring a separate smartphone app to chat with other players is still a somewhat baffling decision in and of itself, leading to some ridiculous hardware solutions for those who want to combine game and chat audio. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime has said that using your existing smartphone and earbuds is preferable to “having some sort of bulky gamer headset,” but we’re still not 100 percent convinced on that score.

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